True Romance

Romance comes in many flavors. Movies and books show beautiful, “perfect” (pretty, impossibly thin, and with long flowing hair) princesses and “perfect” ( muscular, handsome, and large) princes. The Princess has a problem, the Prince rides in on his noble steed and rescues her, off to a castle where every day is sunny and there are servants who do all the work. There’s another type of romance, where the man lavishes flowers, jewelry, and chocolates on the woman for no special reason. There’s also the Taking Long Walks at Sunset on a Tropical Beach type of romance, the Giving Handmade Trinkets to Show You I Really Care flavor, and the I Wrote You a Poem Even Though I’m Not a Poet kind of romance. Now it’s even  supposed to be romantic when  a vampire loves a woman so much he wants to take away her mortal life. I admit to having a soft place in my heart toward all these definitions of romance; well, with the exception of that vampire thing. I’ll keep my own blood, thank you very much! While this is the stuff of fairy tales, after three decades of marriage I’ve discovered real life romance often looks very different.

Last week I had a whirlwind of medical appointments, including two with new practitioners. One of the appointments led to a medical procedure scheduled with less than 20 hours notice. The whole thing left me overwhelmed to the point of being pretty much useless for a while as I processed what was happening. My amazing husband got the next day off (while I was still talking to him on the phone) so he could be there for me. He took care of dinner that night, knowing the day had been hard on me, and the following morning he drove me to the procedure. I was in pretty rough shape when we got home, so he spent the next few hours sitting with me, watching me drift in and out of sleep, ready to call an ambulance or bring me chocolate, whichever emergency might come up.

That kind of love doesn’t show up in books or movies. It’s not exactly riveting, just watching someone sit in a room and watch someone sleep. But guess what? It is very romantic. Flowers are nice. Jewelry is nice. A box of chocolates is nice. But what, at the end of the day, is the romantic value of all those things? They say, “I love you. I want to be extravagant in showing how much I love you.” And guess what? So does taking a vacation day to sit and watch someone sleep, just in case there is the tiniest thing they can do for you. My husband spent one of his vacation days just to be there for me: to sit and make sure I was still breathing. (The ambulance emergency didn’t happen, but the chocolate emergency did. 🙂 ) He didn’t begrudge me the un-fun use of his vacation time. He didn’t find me not worth the effort, and he didn’t think I should be mature enough to not need his support. That, my friend, is true romance.

So, will someone be knocking at our door, begging to write our love story? Probably not anytime soon, but that’s just because the world doesn’t understand what true romance can, and should, be. The occasional gifts are nice, don’t get me wrong! I have yet to turn down a gift given out of love! It’s just that the flashy ones get all the good press, so it can be easy to miss the bigger expressions of a deep, abiding love. You know: the kind of love that is patient and kind, and keeps no record of wrongs. True romance.

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